The Case for IT Values and Principles

IT Principles can accelerate a University’s progress to a new model characterized by collaboration, trust, and a focus on enabling the effective utilization of technology. If a University is to realize a goal of viewing IT with a more global perspective, we require substantial trust and collaborative implementation efforts that transcend organizational units and stakeholder groups. New governance structures, metrics and transparency will continue to build a unifying culture for IT. This culture should be typified by a set of accepted IT principles. It is incumbent upon us, as leaders of IT at Stony Brook University, to care deeply about having an excellent set of principles. Having them allows us to operate under a shared set of values that guide decision making.

A principle is a rule or guideline that provides clear direction and expresses the values of an organization. A world-class IT principle connects to business success, is specific to the enterprise, is transparent to all, and is detailed enough to drive trade-offs. — via Gartner’s Guide to Creating World-Class IT Principles

A series of IT Principles must be developed. Below is a first cut of IT Principles to be shared more widely for comment, edit, and adoption from the community:

  • We will align IT resources and plans with the University’s Strategic Plan.
  • We are committed to responsible stewardship of human, financial, and environmental resources.
  • We are committed to collaboration, communication, and sharing information across social platforms with a human voice.
  • We will encourage innovation, even where concrete business benefit is not initially apparent.
  • We will always consider open source, cloud-based, and vender hosted offerings in the selection of solutions.
  • We will actively hire great people, develop the growth of our staff, promote a diversity of voices, and support our staff.
  • We will maximize value and reduce cost through collective sourcing and campus-wide adoption of enterprise services that can be adopted and costumed regardless of platform or device.
  • We will work to delight our customers in the delivery of our solutions.
  • We will work collaboratively to provide a responsive IT environment that enriches and enhances teaching, learning, service, and research.
  • We will identify risks, implement proactive security measures, and be consistent with policy and law.


It is critical to test principles against day-to-day routines and behaviors or we risk creating a well-crafted but empty set of statements that don’t change anything. Below are three steps we should do to test our principles prior to wide distribution:

  1. Convene your leadership team — Review your newly minted principles with your leadership team, then ask everyone to take out their calendars and choose three different upcoming meetings. At least one should be a standing meeting.
  2. For each meeting, imagine what will be talked about — In those conversations, what responses, decisions or processes have to be changed as a result of respecting the new principles? Perhaps, as a result of your principles, you should cancel an upcoming meeting, because holding it goes against a principle (such as, if you are holding a meeting on the design of a system without customer input and have a principle that states that all systems will be customer-driven). Or maybe you have to eliminate a series of steps in the development of a new project, because you have a principle that states that you will become more agile for certain projects — and you know that you cannot respond at speed unless you change the way projects are run.
  3. Make, reverse or change decisions — Cancel unnecessary meetings, change the agenda of the meeting, change the processes, eliminate steps and undertake all necessary changes to ensure the principles are adhered to.

Communication of IT Principles

Effectively communicating our principles is the necessary next step in gaining adoption and participation. Our goal is to our decisions be guided by these principles so it is critical that our staff at all levels know them, respect them, and act with them as their guiding framework. We should take action to introduce them and make them part of the ongoing culture of the organization. Some ideas include:

  • Blog posts from various staff members expressing “test cases” for or against select principles.
  • New signage that clearly states the principles in all of our working environments.
  • The use of individual principles during meetings that fall within a given context.
  • When talking to people, use the principles as an example of how a decision was made.
  • Constantly review the principles and make them a point of annual conversation.

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